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Sarah Shook & the Disarmers: Years
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers prove what Walt Whitman said, "Simplicity is the glory of expression."
With Years, North Carolina native and Bloodshot Records recording artist Sarah Shook & the Disarmers follow up 2017’s Sidelong and firmly establish themselves as a formidable force in modern American music. Sarah Shook writes with the simplicity, depth and power of any of her contemporaries and sings with the rebellion, attitude and confidence of any protagonist in a Jim Thompson novel.
Now, whether Sarah Shook & the Disarmers qualify as “new country” or “Americana” or “alt-country” is a discussion best had over boilermakers in a bar with a jukebox full of Hank Williams, Motorhead and the Replacements. Like many similar artists, regardless of what you want to call it, they all owe just as much to The Smiths and The Clash as Merle Haggard and maybe that’s why these artists have such a hard time reaching commercial critical mass.
Is it that they’re too country for rock and too rock for county? I don’t know … but here’s what I do know: Sarah Shook & the Disarmers might just have all the ingredients needed to reach critical mass.
Years, having ten songs and clocking in at around 36 minutes, is an album that is all music and no filler. Could it be that the recording industry is finally catching on and we don’t need, or want, 60+ minutes of music as a new release? Maybe they’ll even grab a hold of the idea that we want new music released regularly and not a blast of music once every 12 or 18 months. I wouldn't hold my breath, but dare to dream I say.
This album may not break any new songwriting ground but it doesn't need to. Years is about the always relatable failed relationship. If you’ve ever been frustrated by your partner, you will find yourself singing along to New Ways To Fail, which contains a line that you’ve said at least once.
Now of course, we’ve all had the urge to fly our middle finger at an ex-lover but Years is more than therapy for a love gone bad, it has a defiant and resolute undertone. As Shook herself says, the album is “…about picking yourself up and dusting yourself off after years of being trampled and beaten down, jutting your chin out, head high, after they’ve done their worst, and saying ‘Still here.’”
Amen to that!
Aside from being relatable, the tracks on Years are straightforward and therein lay one of their strengths. You’ll find yourself singing along to the first two tracks by the end of the first play and there is nothing bad about that. Sarah Shook is a sizable talent and her band, the Disarmers, are anything but disarming and do more than just chug along, they leave their mark and on a scale of one to ten, help push Years to an 11.
Sarah Shook & the Disarmers Years prove that the simpler it is, more often than not, the better it is.
And ain’t that a lot like love?